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Videotaped Lessons as a Chinese Immersion Teacher Training Tool

March 19, 2014

By Lelan Miller 孟乐岚

Founder of Mandarin Matters in Our Schools in Texas (MMOST) and master’s candidate in Chinese Language Pedagogy

One of the many challenges of being a Chinese immersion teacher is finding opportunities to observe others teaching immersion Chinese. Observations are an integral and important part of student teaching in any field and especially more so in the relatively new field of Chinese immersion teaching. Many teaching strategies and methods to teach Chinese in immersion education are different from those used in non-immersion settings; therefore it is extremely important for the immersion educator to see successful examples of language lessons for that particular instructional setting.

Observing experienced and trained model teachers of immersion Chinese should not be limited only to the student teaching phase. Neither should observation opportunities be limited solely to the site administrators.  Opportunities to observe should be provided and encouraged many times throughout the teacher’s career, whether the observing teacher is a novice or an experienced educator. Immersion school program administrators should also avail themselves of opportunities to observe lessons along with their program teachers so as to enhance discussions and teacher development upon return to the home campus.

Because immersion programs are scattered throughout the US, observations in live settings in real time are not always possible due to the cost and time constraints involved in traveling to a model immersion site. Thereupon this task often falls to the administrator of the immersion program to do the traveling and observing of pedagogical methods in the site to be visited.

Videotaped demonstration lessons are an appropriate means of delivering lessons to the observer. They can be observed anytime and anywhere thereby reducing the amount of instructional time lost due to the requirement of traveling to a distant site.

The Utah Dual Language Immersion has several teaching demonstrations on video available on their website under the Startalk 2013 tab at http://utahchineseimmersion.org/startalk/startalk-2013/

There is a particularly good demonstration lesson within the Utah Dual Language Immersion site at http://www.bizvision.com/webcast/prod/43357?group_stream_idx=2904

However, videotaped demonstration lessons of Chinese immersion teaching are generally difficult to find online.  For this reason, I am encouraging all Chinese immersion teachers to consider videotaping themselves teaching model lessons (with or without students present, though confidentiality of students who do not have parent releases to be videotaped must be respected) and providing the videos or online links to those videos to the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council so that an online archive can be established here on this website.  If you are interested please contact Lelan Miller at menglelan@yahoo.com.

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